Apple, Computers, Economics, hackintosh, Mac, Management, MBA, Personal, Thoughts

Apple’s scarcity rent (MacOS X in your PC: the hackintosh is born)

I think there’s little discussion that Apple’s operating systems are much more usable and friendly to the user than the ones created by Microsoft. Given the fact that the first used to precede the latter that could mean also a lack of observation skills by Microsoft, but that’s not the point. The point is that denotes a different strategic positioning for each company:

  • Apple is focused towards customers. No redundant or extra menus, just the basic essential needs. utmost usability. But the trade-off also comes to one price: lack of support to several devices or open platforms. To ensure a controlled experience, controlling the hardware becomes necessary.
  • Microsoft is focused towards providers. They define an open system and they build hundreds of thousands of drivers to be able to include each and every hardware even made. They are backwards compatible, ensuring the incorporation of legacy systems. The downside: too much variety hampers your ability to control the user’s experience.

The focus to providers, to the whole industry, means building a cluster of companies around that are able to freely introduce their products to an interoperable market. That’s quite interesting, isn’t it? Companies are able to build their own standards, to compete, and Microsoft simply supports them.It seems that a user should choose between a system tailored for her or a system thought for interoperability. Tough choice, huh?macpc.jpgSimplified like that one would say “let’s choose a system designed solely for the users”. But that’s not quite true. Both systems have users in mind, only a divergent focus. But a focus towards the industry means being able to access a pool of competing hardware. And that means lower prices… ain’t that nice for the user? Maybe the focus wasn’t the user, but she is directly benefited of having an interoperable and open hardware industry.That’s why the nerds simply won.But history makes strange turns. And Apple has changed a lot through the times. Two important swerves:

  • Intel was PC, Motorola was Mac. Intel was winning in price and product. Mac switched.
  • PC was MSDOS, and always backward compatible. Mac wasn’t, and in a bold move decided to switch to UNIX. Now Mac is more stable.

And the result is that Mac is standardised in its kernel and equipment, dwelling in the well of PC-compatible hardware and leaving behind its own proprietary hardware.There’s no real hardware difference between a PC and a Mac any more. Only slight differences that make them slightly different. That’s all. And, on top of it, a very different OS working in (almost) the same setup.And then Apple made another bold move. Decided to go open source. I could write a lot about open source, but the main point of it is releasing the sources so that developers can make better working programs and the quality of the applications and the user experience can be enhanced.And some hackers just did it. Netkas, ToH, BrazilMac and many more rebuilt the system kernel and adapted a few drivers so Mac OS would work in a standard (and advanced enough) PC setup. And voilà. MacOSX was born. Hackintoshes were born.

picture-1.pngtake a good look, this picture is for real, MacOS in my PCIt works, I promise. I have both systems installed (for educative purposes of course) and MacOS X simply rocks. It makes the most of your hardware. Far more stable, far faster, far more usable.MacOS X version 10.5, also called Leopard, was hackintoshed just one week after its launch. So, if it can be done, why aren’t they?Why keep making software for a minority instead of addressing a big market share? Apple wants to keep selling its hardware… that’s a reason enough. Apple wants to segment its public, that’s another reason too. Is Apple learning from hackintoshers or would prefer them silenced?Let’s say it all loud. PC and Macs are no longer different. Many of us, PC users, could be able to choose between two operating systems tomorrow. Microsoft’s monopoly could be broken, and Dell could be providing alternative hardware to Mac users tomorrow, breaking Apple’s monopoly too. Two monopolies that do their best to help each other, regardless of appearances.Why must we be constricted to only one OS? Why should the OS determine who you buy your hardware from? There’s no objective reason for those market imperfections that are simply hampering consumers.Unless Apple decides to fire first…get-a-mac-1.jpg

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5 thoughts on “Apple’s scarcity rent (MacOS X in your PC: the hackintosh is born)

  1. Hmmm… bold move… but maybe too late. Right now there are plenty of open source distros in the market as usable as Mac OSX, like Ubuntu. The days where installing a Linux distribution was an endless nightmare are gone for good.

  2. Apple would also lose control over it’s operating system’s stability if it were tailored to work on PCs all-alike. That’s why they haven’t made that move yet. One of their biggest selling points is stability. The reason they have that selling point is because they control every bit of hardware. You take that away, and you introduce hardware related problems, such as video card drivers from one company could cause problems with a mouse drivers, or visa versa.

  3. @David: in my humble opinion, Ubuntu still lacks a lot of usability… but it’s getting there, for sure.

    @Jeremiah: you’re right but, why not restricting the hardware to a certain setups? In fact nobody’s making drivers for OSX because that would be far too complicated. The people is simply overcoming Apple’s protections. That means that when a graphics card works it is because it is supported natively in OSX. This hardware could be shortlisted for compatibility purposes (in fact you’re paying Apple a plus to shortlist it for you)

    It would be as simple as selling hardware labelled with “Compatible with MACOS”, probably your mouse, keyboard, USB disk or hardrive already are, but your motherboard, CPU, and graphics card may be too… if you only were told you’d make decisions on your own.

    That would mean adding complexity for sure, maybe that’s why Microsoft’s Vista costs double as much as Mac OSX Leopard… but wait, weren’t you already paying that extra when Apple was selecting the hardware for you?

    Best regards 😉

  4. Si me permite, el desastre de windows Vista como producto (en usa Microsoft regala licencias de windows Xp a quien tuvo la desgracia de adquirir un windows Vista) significaría que no han sabido aprovechar la ventaja con que partían respecto a compatibilidad y popularidad de su sistema.
    En frente estaría esa puerta abierta a windows corriendo por iMac que revela talones de Aquiles por ambas partes.

    El futuro -señalan- aplicaciones en la web que permiten trabajar juntos equipos humanos distantes.
    Apuesto que en 2008 aún nos sorprende usted con nuevos post sobre este interesante tema.

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